6 June 2022: In the latest confirmation that fur is not green, the Bulgarian Environment Minister Borislav Sandov has announced a ban on the breeding and import of American Mink. The ban, introduced on the grounds of protecting native biodiversity, will lead to the closure of Bulgaria’s last remaining fur farm.
The prohibition on mink fur farming will enter into force after its publication in the State Gazette. Sandov, Minister of Environment and Water, said:
“After the public discussion and the opinions on all the comments received, I signed the final order for this ban. The conditions on the only farm in Bulgaria are unfavourable, and it has allowed minks to enter wildlife areas in recent years and cause damage.“
The legal basis for this legislation is Bulgaria’s Biodiversity Act, according to which the Environment Minister may impose restrictions on the breeding and import of non-native animal, plant and fungal species, if their accidental release into the wild endangers native species. The bill went through one month of public consultations, which ended on 10th May 2022.
The damage to biodiversity caused by American mink, which have escaped from fur farms, had become a significant problem in Bulgaria. Since the introduction of fur factory farms, feral populations of American mink have been found in more than 20 European countries and can pose a serious threat to native fauna, posing a particular risk to the survival of the few remaining European mink populations. The severe impact on populations of native species caused by fur farm escapees has led several countries to end or limit fur farming.
In November 2021, Respect for Animals published the most comprehensive study of the environment impact of the fur industry to date. The report denounced ‘misleading’ and ‘unsubstantiated’ claims about the sustainability of fur, including the fur trade’s so-called ‘Furmark®’ certification scheme. Written by scientist Dr Heather Pickett, ‘The Environmental Cost of Fur: A scientific review of the environmental impact of the fur industry and why Furmark® is just another attempt at greenwashing’, exposes the fur industry’s impact on biodiversity, pollution, resource use, toxic chemical use, as well as scrutinising the claims underpinning ‘Furmark®’. It considers the fur industry’s claims regarding environmental sustainability and finds fur guilty of the seven ‘Sins of Greenwashing’ as defined by TerraChoice. The report was translated into Bulgarian and shared with the Bulgarian government.
The Bulgarian animal rights organisation CAAI welcomes this historic breakthrough following years of tireless campaigning. In 2018 and in 2019, CAAI along with the Fur Free Alliance organised the Make Fur History exhibition in Sofia, exposing the facts on how real fur is produced and why bans on fur farming are needed.
In April 2021, an opinion poll of Bulgarian citizens (commissioned by CAAI and conducted by Sova Haris) found that 81% do not support the killing of animals solely for their fur (https://caai.bg/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Analiz_KAZHI_0421.pdf).
Petya Altimirska, head of CAAI, said:
“We thank Minister Sandov for this really important and very useful decision for the nature of Bulgaria. This is a decision based on scientific and expert data with regard to the damage caused by the breeding of American mink. At the same time, it is a solution that will prevent significant damage to native wildlife and end the suffering of millions of American mink that are bred for their fur under cruel conditions! This Order is so important to nature and the animals.”